Our clients typically don’t run in to issues completing the design phase of their organization transformation. At the start of a project, the CEO states the importance of the design work. Teams are motivated by the challenge and the involvement in the process. However, once the exciting design work is finished, and leaders get back to business as usual, organization design fatigue sets in just as the hard work necessary to complete the play is required.

Activating a new operating and organization model is an adaptive and dynamic activity that typically requires modifications in structures, processes, metrics, and behaviors reinforced by iterative cycles of learning over time. Successful activation requires a sophisticated project infrastructure and continued management attention. To ensure our clients are appropriately equipped to realize their designs, we assist them in setting up the governance necessary to seamlessly transition the organization from design to implementation.

Governance of the organization transformation has three key components:

1. Infrastructure: Transformation Office – For a complex change, dedicated resources are needed to coordinate work teams, source expert resources as needed, find opportunities to integrate and connect across initiatives, manage the dashboard and reporting, identify and raise issues, and facilitate necessary decision making meetings. Too often, this work is given as an additional responsibility to HR, OD, or a chief of staff and doesn’t get the attention it needs. Business leadership is needed here, supported by project management.

2. Involvement: Work Teams – These teams continue the detailed design which often includes decisions rights, management process redesign, and metrics. Membership of these teams should contain many of the same people as the original design team to avoid handoffs in the work that can result in gaps. These teams can also conduct assessments of progress and recommend adjustments.

3. Leadership: Steering Committee – This is a forum of executives charged with making cross-boundary design decisions, reviewing milestones, and if necessary, reconciling the “transformation dilemmas” that work teams may encounter that cannot be resolved by the transformation office.

The graphic below illustrates the type of robust transformation governance that is required for an enterprise organization change. It can be scaled to match the size and complexity of the activation work and may stay in existence for 6-18 months.

Organization Transformation Governance Structure

One “watch out” we always give our clients is that dedicating the appropriate staff to the organization transformation office is critical. Since this is new work, organizations often do not have the talent internally to properly staff this team. Therefore, external hires are often required.

In our experience, when the proper staff is hired coupled with the infrastructure above, organization transformation offices are successfully able to deliver the following capabilities:

  • Transition Planning – Develop the tactical plans that moves the organization from current state to future state while ensuring continued momentum and mitigating organization disruption.
  • Program Management Excellence – Drive the integrated master project plan and timeline by ensuring scope and priorities are agreed, key milestones are met, gaps are flagged, and interdependencies identified.
  • Change Leadership – Spearhead the strategic vision for the new organization by conveying business impact through clear messaging, producing and leveraging change champions, stakeholder management, creating change readiness (through education and skill-building), and monitoring adoption of the change.
  • Organization Design – Leverage deep knowledge in structure, process, role, and governance design to create high performing organizations that fuel business growth.
  • Organization Effectiveness – Make certain the organization performs as intended by attending to team dynamics, rebuilding networks, clarifying new roles, and building skill and awareness on effective leadership and matrix behaviors.

We often remind our clients that the design is the not the finish line. Investment in transformation governance is necessary to bring the new design to life and fully embed new ways of working through an active process of learning and adjustment.

Jaclyn Kates, Consultant

Kates Kesler